Texas is off to their personal Dante’s Ring: Manhattan, Kansas. As you are aware, the Wildcats have not been kind to the Texas Longhorns, either here or there. If you are not aware, enjoy this recap:
- When the Big 12 started, Texas missed Kansas State the first two years. The first meeting was in 1998 in Manhattan. It didn’t go well. The No.4 Wildcats destroyed the Horns, 48-7, holding Ricky Williams scoreless and limiting him to a season-low 43 yards rushing on 25 carries, the worst game of his Heisman season.
- The following season they came to Austin, and beat up Major Applewhite en route to a 35-17 win, highlighted by David Allen’s punt return for a touchdown. I still see him doing the throat slash and still wonder why in the world Texas kicked to him.
- Texas won the next two, in 2002 in Manhattan with a blocked field goal to preserve a 17-14 win and 2003 when Vince Young returned after nearly getting his foot twisted off to lead Texas to a 24-20 win with a late score.
- In 2006, Texas went to K-State ranked No. 3/No.4, and with No.4/No.3 Louisville losing to Ray Rice and Rutgers in the Thursday night game and with No.1 Ohio State and No.2 Michigan playing in the season finale, Texas was in prime position to defend their national title. All that stood in their way was K-State and A&M. Texas took the ball first that night and drove right down the field, sitting at the one and facing a 4th & Goal. A qb sneak the play before looked like it was good, but the referees said no. Texas ran the same play and it worked for a score… Except freshman qb Colt McCoy was injured and knocked out of the game. With backup Jevan Snead, Texas was sucked into a shootout and lost, 45-42. It ended any hopes of defending the national title and the following game there was no effort and Texas lost to A&M, 12-7.
- In 2007, Texas made Josh Freeman and Jordy Nelson NFL draft picks with their inability to cover or tackle, and once again K-State hammered Colt McCoy. Honestly if that game were this year, McCoy’s season would have been over the way he was throwing up on the sidelines. He was clearly concussed. Once again Texas lost to K-State, this time going away, 41-21.
- When Texas traveled to K-State in 2010, it was the lowest point of the lowest season of the Mack Brown era. 4-4 Texas needed a win to get things going in the right direction. K-State started an unknown quarterback named Collin Klein and the Horns were not ready for him or anything else that night. The opening kickoff was returned to the Texas 38 and two plays later it was 7-0, Midwest Purple. It went downhill from there. Garrett Gilbert was broken that night, throwing five picks, and Texas was thoroughly and completely blown out, 39-14.
- In 2011, the Manny Diaz defense was hitting on all cylinders but the offense was in neutral, getting inside the Wildcat 25 twice and getting no points and losing, 17-13.
- In 2012 Texas went to Manhattan without the David Ash and hung with No.7 Kansas State and Heisman candidate Collin Klein for the first three quarters, but in the end they Wildcats were too much and won going away, 42-24.
- Last year Texas played one of their best games of the season in beating Kansas State, 31-21, but in the process they turned wide out Tyler Lockett into a superstar, allowing him 237 yards receiving on 13 catches.
In the history of the Big 12, only two teams (including Nebraska, A&M and Colorado, TCU and WVA) have a winning record against Texas: oklahoma (8-10) and Kansas State (3-7). Tell me the truth: who thought the ou series would be closer than the K-State series? Not many, I bet.
Another interesting fact: this is the first time these two teams will meet as conference foes with someone other than Mack Brown on the sideline for Texas. Texas hadn’t yet played K-State when Mack Brown took over in 1998. In the past, I would dread this game and just hope to get out alive. No longer. I am excited and ready to see the Horns in the road whites. And they have a shot in this one. A good one. Let’s get to it.
TEXAS (3-4/2-2) @ No.11 KANSAS STATE (5-1/3-0)
I heard a story early in the week about Charlie Strong when he got the job at Louisville. One of the first people he called was Bill Snyder to get some guidance and advice. Strong said he wanted to model his program after Snyder’s Wildcats. Now he gets to play Snyder’s Wildcats. Up there. Up there in the sunken field, where you enter at the mezzanine. Where the smell of used cattle feed drifts into the visitor section, which is located opposite the video board, on which plays the always-hilarious video lampooning the said visitors. Then the visiting team gets to walk through the stands to get to the field, which is pretty awesome. It’s a tough place to get to and a tough place to play. It’s loud, it’s hostile and even when they are bad, It’s a difficult game. They are decidedly not bad. The good news is the game is not at night, which means the crowd will not be in quite the lather they could be. No problem, right? Let’s take a look at what K-State wants to do.
Historically K-State struggles offensively for a while as they break in a new quarterback. It’s a complicated system and it takes time for it to clear up for the qb, usually by his senior year. Form is holding true as senior Jake Waters is leading the team. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior college transfer was a guy Texas showed interest in two years ago, but he opted for Kansas State. He struggled at times early last year, as you would expect, but was hitting on all cylinders at the end of the year and his lock on the starting job made fellow qb Daniel Sams transfer to McNeese State. He’s not the biggest, the strongest or the quickest, but he’s a great football player that understands his role what they want him to do. He’s thrown for 1,431 yards and nine touchdowns, completing 65.1% of his passes. More impressive is the three picks, which is the sixth fewest in the nation for qb’s with 100 or more passes attempted. He also leads the team in rushing 371 yards and has seven rushing touchdowns (second most on the team), averaging 4.7 per carry. He’s not going to wow you with speed or a NFL throws, but he is effective and moves the chains. He reminds me some of Clint Chelf from Oklahoma State last year, who was not flashy but deadly effective.
He’s got two receivers that he finds: Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton. You all remember Lockett, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior that is about the 54th Lockett to play ball at K-State. He’s an NFL player with speed, athleticism and terrific hands. He torched Texas last year, and pretty much everyone else, and now he’s the No.1 guy at wideout. With teams putting their best corner and the focus of their defense on him, fellow wideout Curry Sexton has stepped up. The same size and class as Lockett (5-foot-11, 183 pounds, senior) Sexton leads the team in receptions with 36 (one more than Lockett) and is second on the team with 412 yards receiving (Locket has 485). He has two td’s as well (Locket has four). Waters will find tight end Zach Trujillo at times, but this is the Lockett/Sexton show through the air. They aren’t going to overpower teams with size, but they are lightning quick and run great routes. If teams are focused on the run, they will absolutely torch them.
The big concern coming into the season was the running back, where John Hubert departed as the No.2 rusher in school history. So far this year it’s been by committee with DeMarcus Robinson and Charles Jones. The sophomore Jones is bigger at 5-foot-10, 197 pounds, but the 5-foot-7, 209-pound senior Robinson is more experienced. The two combine for 102 yards per game with a combined 11 touchdowns, included eight from Jones. They split the carries nearly in half with 69 for Jones and 60 for Robinson. At 4.9- and 4.6-yards-per-carry respectively, they make the most out of their 10 or so carries a game. The platooning has cut down on their individual numbers, but K-State rushes for 184 yards per game, which is fourth in the league. This is a balanced attack, able to run and pass well.
And that’s because the boys up front do the work. With three starters returning, they are solid if not spectacular on the offensive line. The right side is new, but the middle is anchored by Outland Trophy candidate BJ Finney, a 6-foot-4, 303-pound senior that has started 45 straight games. They have moved some guys around, but it’s working right now as they have allowed only six sacks on the season. This is a solid unit that keeps Waters clean and lets him get the ball out to playmakers.
K-State is going to attack the middle of the field, where Iowa State had success last week. They will run Waters more than Iowa State ran Sam B, because he’s better at it. They will go deep to Lockett and Sexton after getting Texas thinking about the running game. They are confident in their ability to protect the ball and score points, but this is the best defense they have seen since Auburn.
They are second in the league in points allowed at 22.5 points per game and lead the league in fewest yards allowed at 100.8 ypg. They don’t defend the pass particularly well, giving up 251.2 yards per game. They don’t get to the quarterback well, either, totaling only seven sacks, which is last in the league. They are ninth in pass efficiency defense at 133.4.
So this is a physical defense that excels at shutting down the run and gets in trouble when teams pass. I like how this sets up very much, because this is how ou’s defense is set up.
The star up front is Ryan Mueller, the 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior. He had 11.5 sacks last year, but only has 1.5 this fall. They aren’t overly big with a 290-pound and 293-pound
defensive tackle. The opposite end, Jordan Willis, is a 6-foot-5, 250-pound sophomore, has 11 tackles and one sack. These guys are using speed and stunts to shut down the running game, but they aren’t getting to the quarterback.
Traditionally the linebackers have been the strength of the this team, and that’s the case this year. Sort of. Jonathan Truman leads the team in tackles and is fourth in the Big 12 with 60 and has two passes defended. He’s small at 5-foot-11, 219 pounds, but the senior is very active and disruptive. I don’t think the other two starters are in Truman’s league, but they’ll get there with more experience. Right now, it’s the Truman Show. See what I did there? Usually K-State kills with the linebacker blitz, but they don’t have the personnel for that this year.
I see three picks in two games for cornerback Morgan Burns, but I don’t see much elite in the secondary. Maybe I haven’t paid enough attention, but I saw Trevor Knight torch them. Enough said.
Expect a lot of blitzing, like Iowa State, to try and force Tyrone Swoopes into early throws and bad reads as they want to overwhelm a young offensive line on the road. Will it work? I don’t think so.
Punter Nick Walsh averages 42.2 yards per kick with seven of the 16 being fair caught. Freshman Matt McCrane took over for the struggling Jack Cantele and is perfect on field goals and extra points. They only allow 14.8 yards per kick return, but only get 18.7 themselves. Punt returner Tyler Lockett averages a crazy 26.8 yards per punt return with a touchdown, but they allow an equally alarming 18.6 per return and one for a score.
K-State is always great at special teams and every one of the times they’ve beaten Texas in the life of the Big 12 has involved a great special teams play. They expect it again this time.
Texas has a new personality and new mindset and I can assure you know one is “scared to death” to go to Manhattan this weekend. In fact, I see some things I like and you can bet the Texas coaches do, too. Let’s take a look what Texas needs to do:
The rush defense is legit, but the pass defense is not. I attack those safeties and linebackers in coverage, moving Marcus Johnson and Jaxon Shipley into the slot and finding them in the flats and over the middle while using John Harris to stretch the field. If K-State wants to blitz like I think they do, Texas should attack the vacated spots with screens, both bubble and running back, and make them pay. And as I said, go deep. Drive that secondary back with deep shots, and expect to see a lot of Tyrone Swoopes running out of passing sets as the receivers run downfield, making them pay for dropping into coverage. This defense is statistically very good, but I think this new-found Texas offense can make some plays on them.
I think Swoopes goes off.
I can’t imagine what sort of practice the defense had this week. They have been told, repeatedly, how bad they played. And shown, repeatedly, how bad they played. And reminded. Again. And again. I will give the defense a pass on last week, as it was the only time in the season it’s happened. They will get the same looks this week and I expect they are much better than last week. Much. Better.
K-State isn’t going to turn it over; they just don’t. But Texas can attack that inexperienced right side of the line and shut down Waters, pressuring him into throwing it away. The backs are solid, but the strength of this team is outside at wide out. Texas needs to bring the heat on Waters, bracket Lockett and Sexton and make the K-State running game have to win it. I don’t think they can.
I have nightmares about this one. I see David Allen all over again. Just don’t. Please, one more time, don’t suck again. Last week was great. Can we do that again? Give them nothing. Just don’t.
Texas is a 10-point dog in this one, but I think the experts are wrong. WRONG. I think Texas gets after that suspect secondary with some deep shots, timely running and a great game on the ground and in the air from Swoopes, and scores some points. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, I see a defense with a serious case of the red-ass and they are going chew up the K-State ground game… I am worried about Lockett and Sexton making plays, but they are very good and that’s what they do.
I think Texas wins this. Whose with me?
This Week in the Big 12
No.12 BAYLOR (6-1/ 3-1) IDLE
No.17 oklahoma (5-2/ 3-1) IDLE
KANSAS (2-5/0-4) IDLE
IOWA STATE (2-5/0-4) IDLE
No.22 WEST VIRGINIA (5-2/ 3-1) @ Oklahoma State (5-2 /3-1) 2:30 pm ESPN
I see high scoring game that the Neers win. I asked my analyst (my 10-year old). “It will be 31-28 and OSU will have the ball with a chance to win it, but the Mountaineers will hold.” I concur, because I think OSU is just not very good.
TEXAS TECH (3-4/1-3) @ No.10 TCU (5-1/ 2-1) 2:30 pm FOX
Oh, dear. This is going to be ugly. Not Bama/A&M ugly, but ugly nonetheless. Sonny Cumbie is going to light up his alma mater and former employer. Back to the expert: “59-10.” Again, concur.